Bengaluru: Marriage is no license to "provide special male privilege or a license for unleashing a brutal beast", said the Karnataka High Court while refusing to drop rape charges framed by a trial court against a man for his wife's alleged sexual assault.
"The institution of marriage does not confer, cannot confer and should not be construed to confer, any special male privilege or a license for unleashing of a brutal beast," said a single-judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna of the Karnataka High Court said.
The High Court's observations came on a case filed by a woman who accused her husband of treating her as a 'sex slave'.
While upholding the charge of rape against the husband, the bench observed: "A man is a man; an act is an act; rape is a rape, be it performed by a man the 'husband' on the woman 'wife'. If it is punishable to a man, it should be punishable to a man albeit, the man being a husband."
At present, the exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, says sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.
However, the High Court clarified that the order pertains to the framing of charges against the husband and is not about whether marital rape should be recognised as an offence.
"It is for the legislature to delve upon the issue and consider tinkering of the exemption. This Court is not pronouncing upon whether marital rape should be recognised as an offence or the exception be taken away by the legislature," the Karnataka High Court stated.
The petitioner alleged said that her husband forced her to have unnatural sex, even in front of their daughter.
Earlier in January this year, while hearing the petitions relating to the criminalization of marital rape, the Delhi High Court questioned how the dignity of a married woman is not affected as an unmarried woman when the man imposes himself on her and remarked that relationship cannot put it on a different pedestal as a woman remains a woman.
In August 2021, the Chhattisgarh High Court acquitted a man charged with marital rape stating that sexual intercourse or any sexual act between a legally wedded couple is not rape even if done by force.